AM Class 4: Dialogue Planning

Week 5 has come to an end for Class 4 of AM and we had to complete the initial planning for our dialogue shot. For the assignment we had to pitch three different dialogue choices to our mentor. However, for brevity of this blog, I am going to only post the planning for the clip that my mentor chose for me to do.

The planning consisted of video reference, thumbnail sketches, facial pose tests and a phonetic breakdown of the dialogue showing where the emphasis of certain words are. Choosing dialogue for a piece is actually rather challenging, because it needs to be interesting, have nice cadence and rythmn, tell a story, and also not be so iconic that it takes the viewer out of the piece.

The planning process of this piece is much more in-depth because of how much more detailed this shot has to be. The video reference is probably going to be the most useful piece of planning because I am going for very naturalistic style of animation. Adding in facial animation brings a whole new level complexity and problems to solve while animating. I will be tracking my workflow on this piece quite closely to learn areas I can improve and which areas worked well. It is going to be a really challenging yet fun assignment and I am really excited to tackle it!

Below is my video reference, thumbnails, facial poses and dialogue breakdown.




AM Class 2- Psychology of Body Mechanics: Week 1

It’s finally time to get back to work with AM! I am so excited to be starting Class 2 with my awesome new mentor Steve Cady! Steve is a veteran animator who has been in the industry for 14 years. He has worked all over the world and all different parts of the industry from smaller projects, to TV commercials, video games, and feature films. Some of his most impressive animation projects include most recently: The Amazing Spider-Man, Avatar, Chronicles of Narnia: Lion The Which and The Wardrobe. He has a very long list of amazing projects he has worked on and I am honored to get to learn from such a great animator. I have heard nothing but good things about Steve.

Class 2 is structured very differently from Class 1. In this class we only have 3 actual animated shots to turn it, but we have 4 weeks to work on each assignment. Each week is a different stage of the animation process that we submit and get critiques and help on. The main focus of Class 2 is to get a solid understanding of Body Mechanics (how the body moves, and why). The first week of the class we had to choose from a pretty vast list of actions to animate with the Ballie character. I decided to do an animation of Ballie as a soccer goalie and headering the ball away to save the goal!

For the assignment we had to sketch two different pages of thumbnail ideas for poses, and record video reference of ourselves to study the motion and really understand the action we are going to be animating. The entire first week was devoted to PLANNING the animation. This is one of the most important stages of animation, because if you do very detailed and accurate planning, laying down the keys and animating in Maya goes a lot smoother and makes for an overall better experience animating and a more clean/polished shot as well.

Below are my two pages of sketches and the video reference I shot. You get to see me jumping around like an un-coordinated animator in my living room pretending to be a soccer player heading an invisible ball (I didn’t have anything to be thrown at my head.. well anything safe).



I also went a head and for some extra work to get an understanding of my character I did a character study for his personality and mood of the scene.


That’s all for now. Until next week- when you get to see my first Blocking Pass of the assignment!

AM Class 1: Week 3 – Excitement & Bouncing Ball

Week 3 has already come to an end, and it surely was a busy one. The assignment this week was a combination of a couple different tasks. The first part consisted of a set of sketches conveying the emotion “Excitement”, we then had to turn one of those sketches into a 3D pose of our Stu character.

The next assignment was to animate a bouncing ball that mimics the weight of either a basketball or soccer ball, using no squash or stretch and in a frame limit of 50-100 frames. (Side note: 24 frames = 1 second of animation for film) This was our first true animation assignment, where we got to really hammer in the principles of timing,spacing, and how to work with the graph editor.

This assignment was a lot of fun to think about and attempt, I feel like I am really starting to get a better understanding of how timing and spacing are used to create a realistic and believable animation. As part of the Ball Bounce assignment, we had to show our planning for the animation, because it is extremely important to have a clear end goal in mind for your animation before you ever sit down at the computer and try and animate. This is a habit that Animation Mentor really tries to hammer into their students, always PLAN before you Animate. This is something I used to not do very much before coming to AM, I used to kind of just hop in to Maya and animate without much of a plan except for what was in my head. AM has been really great about teaching a strong and structured workflow to make animating a shot much less confusing and manageable.

Below are my sketches for my Excitement Pose:

and here are 3 images; consisting of my original pose, my mentor’s critiques and suggestions on how to improve it, and the revised version of the pose. My inspiration for this pose came from seeing a commercial with Tiger Woods in it.

Animation Mentor - Class 1 - Week 3 Poses

Now here is my planning for my bouncing ball (I did a basketball):

And below are two videos; the first, is my original ball bounce and the second, is the revised ball bounce, fixing the very minor comments my mentor told me to address to make it more believable.

That is all for this week, but stay tuned for my next update which will cover all of the work for week 4 – Bouncing Balls with different weights!